Friday, April 22, 2016

Making Love And Music's The Only Things We're Fighting For: Prince

The loss of Prince is the second painful time this year we have been deprived of someone who inspired so many and taught us about ourselves. If David Bowie was our preacher to be original, than Prince was our professor of purple sexuality.

I was very young didn’t understand what Prince was singing about on Purple Rain. I was 8. All I knew what that I liked the beat, I liked purple, and Prince was a cool guy. Bless my parents. As the years went by, and Graffiti Bridge and Diamonds and Pearls gave us hits like Cream and Gett Off, I was a little amazed at how I had gotten away with listen to such suggestive and sexy songs.

But then it hit me. Prince made sex okay. He gave us permission to be sexy with Wendy, Lisa, Vanity and even our Darling Nikki. He made it alright to dance sexy and worship those you desire.

But there was more to Prince than sex. Prince gave us Minneapolis sound, the hybrid mix of soul, funk, and R&B that was the base behind Prince’s sound. Prince was original and was not afraid to take matters of artist respect into his own control. 

Prince took a stand against powerful music companies. From changing his name to a symbol, to taking a stand on the copyrights of his music online, what some see as him being demanding or difficult, has actually been him protecting the future of music and the musicians.

And not very often at all, he sang about the state of our world: 1999, Sign O’ The Times, and Talk to Russia. The end of the worlds, AIDS, and our relationship with Russia during the Cold War were not light topics but Prince handled them with class but also with urgency. 
And let's not forget about the non-Prince songs that Prince gave us. The most popular being Nothing Compares 2 U, made famous by Sinead O'Connor and recently Chris Cornell. When You Were Mine - Cindy Lauper, Manic Monday - The Bangles, and yes, Stand Back by Stevie Nicks are among the few that Prince wrote
I remember roller skating to Prince in my basement. 1999 was my anthem when I moved into my basement (on top of the washer and dryer). Batdance was my song at the dance. 1999 again was the anthem when we awaited Y2K. And New Power Generation was my anthem of power and youth.
Prince's music has transcended centuries and generations of music fans. He taught us to love others and love ourselves. Be sexy. Be innovative. Be true to yourself. And love a little more.  
Starfish and coffee
Maple syrup and jam
Butterscotch clouds, a tangerine
And a side order of ham
If U set your mind free, baby
Maybe you'd understand
Starfish and coffee

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Perfect Roadtrip Playlist

2010 PMCarlson

 Road trippin' with my two favorite allies
Fully loaded we got snacks and supplies
It's time to leave this town
It's time to steal away
Let's go get lost
Anywhere in the U.S.A.
Road Trippin' ~ Red Hot Chili Peppers

You've got the car packed, mapped out your routes, and even have snacks for the first leg of your adventure to wherever...but did you make a playlist?? You're own special playlist reserved for this very special trip?  Need some help? Here are some of my favorite road trip playlists for some very unique travels. 

2010 PMCarlson

Music Festival Road Trip Playlist
You've got your band list, your sunscreen, rainboots, your tent, and your bestest friends in the world. Whether you're driving to Manchester, Hunter, or training it to Glastonbury, music festival playlists are kind of essential. Linking back to some of music biggest festivals to its newest, this list covers decades.

2013 PMCarlson
On the Coast Road Trip Playlist
It is magic driving along any coast of any continent and having a good playlist adds to the memories. Just make sure you're driving on the correct side of the road before you press play.

1991 PMCarlson

90's High School Reunion Road Trip
Everyone has those songs that take you back to when you had papers, didn't like gym class, dreamed of your driver's permit, and gum-tacked pictures of Eddie Vedder to your locker.

80's Dance Party Road Trip
Whether you remember the 80's or not ... it was a fun time and the music was carefree and had a great beat to have an all out dance party. 

There you have it, some starter playlists for a few road trips. Drive safe and hopefully these songs will become part of your new playlists for some of your adventures. 
2013 PMCarlson

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Can You Hear Me Major Tom? Music of David Bowie - Tribute

The public mourning of David Bowie continued with two tribute concerts planned on March 31st and April 1st in New York City. The Carnegie Hall March show was announced on what would be the day of David's passing. It was to be a tribute to honor him in person, such as they have done with the Rolling Stones and Bill Withers. The first selling out in two hours, they added the Radio City Show to allow more people to pay tribute to someone who meant so much to many music fans. 

No one really knew what to expect. Would it be a fast and furious tribute like Lady Gaga or the toned down and personal tribute from Lorde. We all heard rumors of who might show and had our own wishlist of songs. 

In all, both nights gave longtime Bowie fans what they deserved. They sang some hits, some songs unknown to the mainstream, but each artist was left to their interpretation of songs that inspired them. Each song beautiful in the tribute it sent to David Bowie.  And each night gave us amazing musicians inspired so much by the spirit of artistic chance.

Carnegie Hall seemed a bit of a dress recital with the sound engineers still trying to figure out their way around Carnegie Hall's sound rules. That aside, the show was nonstop, each artist only pausing to wait their introductions. Each song was chosen by the artist to honor the man of the night. And each artist brought their own interpretation to songs we know well. Many had worked with Bowie himself, making the tribute that more special and meaningful.

Evan Agostino
Carnegie Hall March 31, 2016
Cyndi Lauper – Suffragette City
Holy Holy – Width of a Circle
Robyn Hitchcock – Soul Love
Laurie Anderson - Always Crashing in the Same Car
Eurene Hutz – Breaking Glass
Debbie Harry – Starman
Joseph Arthur – The Man Who Sold the World
The Mountain Goats – Worn on a Wing
Michael Stipe and Karen Elison – Ashes to Ashes
J. Mascis and Sean Lennon – Quicksand
Bettye LaVette – It Ain't Easy
Perry Farrell – Rebel Rebel
Cat Power – Five Years
Ann Wilson – Let’s Dance
Pixies – Cactus
Rickie Lee Jones – All the Young Dudes
Jakob Dylan – Heroes
The Flaming Lips – Life on Mars?
Choir! Choir! Choir! w/ New York City Children’s Choir – Space Oddity

Radio City had a completely different vibe, from the relaxed atmosphere to people actually dressing up as their favorite Bowie characters. I met people who traveled from as far as Moscow to see the show.

The sound quality was 100% better for this show, which was great since we were allowed to stand and dance for this show. While there were some repeats performers, each artist still brought a new performance to us.

Radio City
 Ann Wilson - Space Oddity
  Holy Holy - The Width of a Circle
Jakob Dylan- Sorrow 
 Esperanza Spalding - If You Can See Me
  Donny McCaslin Group - Lazarus  
 Ron Pope-Moonage Daydream 
 Kyp Malone - The Bewlay Brothers
J Mascis and Sean Lennon - Quicksand 
Michael Stipe and Karen Elson- Ashes to Ashes
Pixies -  Cactus
Joseph Arthur -
The Man Who Sold the World 
  The Polyphonic Spree - The Man Who Sold the World 
 Jherek Bischoff, Amanda… more - Blackstar 
Mumford & Sons - It Ain’t Easy  
  Cat Power - Five Years 
 Rickie Lee Jones -  All the Young Dudes
 Perry Farrell -  Rebel Rebel 
 Blondie - Heroes 
 The Flaming Lips - Life on Mars? 
  Choir! Choir! Choir! w/ The NYC Youth Chorus - Space Oddity

As opposed to reviewing each song, I offer my highlights for both nights. 

Michael Stipe and Karen Elson gave us Ashes to Ashes, but not the cover version you'd expect. As only Michael Stipe could do, they gave us an almost re-invented, spoken word version of the song to follow up Space Oddity
 Gogol Bordello performed the quick-paced and perfect for a gypsy punk cover - Breaking Glass from the album Low. It actually makes you wonder why there were never any accordions or fiddles on the original. 

Perry Farrell  suits any Bowie tribute and his cover of Rebel Rebel was a highlight that got people on their feet.
I had no idea who the Polyphonic Spree were and shame on me. The band is a hybrid choir with flutes, horns, percussion, and upwards of 20 members at any given time. Their cover of Slip Away was nothing short of inspiring.

Amanda Palmer and Jheric Bischof didn't stray from the element's of Blackstar off Bowie's final studio album of the same name. They simply amplified it with additional vocalists, strings, and a guitar. 

As if written for them, It Ain't Easy was not a stretch to cover for Britain's Mumford and Sons. 

And for another artist non on the lips of the mainstream, Ron Pope brought his rock, pop, and a bit of 'billy to another track from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Moonage Daydream is a song that deserve and anthem title. It has sweeping guitar chords and keyboard and alto sax solos.  Rob Pope and his band of musicians made this sound like something we'd hear at The Last Waltz and so continued the unique evening of honoring Ziggy. 

And although organizers were adamant about no gimmicks -- everyone knew Wayne Coyne and The Flaming Lips would bend the rules, but who else could deliver a great Life on Mars??

And while all of the artists were truly magnificent, including Esperanza Spalding, Debbie Harry, Cyndi Lauper, and the reunited Pixies. The two nights were both the ability of each member of the audience to remember and share their love. 

What might be the most memorable experience from both nights, was singing along to Space Oddity with Torono's Choir Choir Choir and the New York City Youth Choir. Belting those words, with tears in on the precipice was healing. We all said goodbye to our Major Tom as the last line was sung and the lights went black. 

"Space Oddity"

Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills
and put your helmet on

Ground Control to Major Tom
Commencing countdown,
engines on
Check ignition
and may God's love be with you

Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Liftoff

This is Ground Control
to Major Tom
You've really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
Now it's time to leave the capsule
if you dare

This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating
in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do

Though I'm past
one hundred thousand miles
I'm feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much
she knows

Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit's dead,
there's something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you....

Here am I floating
round my tin can
Far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue

And there's nothing I can do.

2016 PMCarlson